How I Became A Heartless Monster By Confusing Two Books In Conversation

Communication is important. Even when you are saying the right words, the person listening might not be hearing them correctly. It is good to clarify when you see the look on the person’s face isn’t matching what you are saying. Like that time a guy thought I was the most heartless, soul-less monster that ever lived.

A Bit Of Exposition…

I talk to everyone. I end up in random conversations with people anywhere there are people. Subject matter or the fact they are not actually talking to me is not a factor. I do not always instigate it, but I will contribute. Once a 6-year-old sat in front of me on the train. She turned around, asked me if I liked Star Wars, and introduced me to her dragon named “Ice Heart.” We talked the whole train ride and her mom enjoyed the break.

I regularly talk to strangers when I donate platelets once a month. This process takes about 2.5 hours from start to finish. It is more complicated than donating blood and I am hooked up to a machine for the whole process. I am a big believer in donating and you can read more about that here.

During this time, I will read, watch Netflix, and/or make conversation with the techs and volunteers. Afterward, I sit with the other donors and chat while drinking juice and eating cookies. The volunteers who give us the treats are normally retired people or high school students.

One Saturday morning, I went off to the blood bank as per usual. After finishing my platelet donation, I sat down at the table with a volunteer.  While I have no idea what his name actually is, we shall call the volunteer, Vince. Vince was not the typical volunteer. He was in his late twenties and looked like he was studying for medical school.

My Innocent Comment…

We started talking about books. I mentioned that I was working my way through the BBC Must Read Book List. Vince asked how I was enjoying the list so far and I said I had only found two books that I hated. He asked which ones and this is where it all went wrong. I repeated an assessment I have given many times…

I really hated Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. It was tedious. I wished it could have been more like her sister’s book, Jane Eyre.

The other book I hated was On The Road by Jack Kerouac. Hated it. The main character was so whiny. He bitched and moaned his whole way across the country. He needed to suck it up and just deal with it. That is what being an adult is all about.

I stopped talking because I noticed his face. It was something like this and he was backing away from me a bit:

I asked what was wrong. Vince said,

“I can’t believe you would say that about that book. I mean what that guy went through and for his kid. You, you thought he was whining and complaining? Wow. Just Wow. You’re entitled to your opinion and all, but wow.”

Kid? What kid? I suddenly realized the problem.

I was talking about On The Road by Jack Kerouac. He thought I was talking about The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

If you are familiar with these books, you have gasped and now understand the issue. If you are not, allow me to explain.

The Book I Was Talking About…

Wikipedia describes: The two main characters of the book are the narrator, Sal Paradise, and his friend Dean Moriarty, much admired for his carefree attitude and sense of adventure, a free-spirited maverick eager to explore all kicks and an inspiration and catalyst for Sal’s travels.

The Book He Thought I Was Talking About…

Goodreads describesA father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.

I Agree With Him On Being A Monster…

…if I had been talking about that book. Because only a monster would think the main character was “was so whiny. He bitched and moaned his whole way across the country. He needed to suck it up and just deal with it. That is what being an adult is all about.”

Thankfully, I was able to explain. While I thought it was funny, Vince had already judged me as being soul-less so the laughing didn’t help. It is possible he didn’t believe me. Vince said he wasn’t familiar with the book I was talking about. I never did see him at the blood bank again…hmm.

What I Learned…

I learned that when I am in public, I need to make sure I clarify that I am talking about a book about aimless young adults on a road trip and not about a dystopian book where a father is protecting his child from cannibals.

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